Posted by: janellehilmes | October 12, 2010

Project Update #1 – Problems with IDEA

Pringle, Evelyn. “Schools Failing Children With Disabilities.” Lawsuits, Legal News & Issues, Lawsuit Settlements, Class Action Suit, Lawyer Search – 27 Feb. 2006. Web. 12 Oct. 2010. <;.

Congress passed IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1975. This act requires schools to “identify children with disabilities and provide them with a need specific, free education in the least restrictive environment”. The federal government made schools change to fit the requirements of this act, yet they barely increased funding. The funding they give to schools is not nearly enough to cover the cost of the IDEA requirements. In fact, the money the federal government gives to schools for special education only amounts to 10.2% of the spending imposed by IDEA. The nations schools struggle to find the money every year and during the 1999-2000 school year, they spent $78 billion educating special needs children. The most expensive special education program is autism, and public schools are required to provide free appropriate education to autistic kids starting at age 3. IDEA also has a section which requires “mainstreaming” of handicapped kids with non-handicapped kids. Also IDEA requires each kid to have an IEP (individualized education plan). The conflict arises when parents want what is best for their children and the schools only want to provide “adequate” services. If the parents believe that the IEP developed for their child is inadequate, then they have the opportunity to challenge that IEP. They can have a “due process hearing” and if nothing is resolved, then they need to take it to court. Many lawsuits are outlined in this article, some where the parents won and some where the schools won.

Posted by: janellehilmes | October 10, 2010

Bookstore Trip


Erin and I reading WordPress for Dummies : )

While I was at the Tattered Cover in downtown Denver, I found a few books about special education that caught my eye…

1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising children with Autism or Aspergers by Ellen Notbohm

Different Learners: Identifying, preventing, and treating your child’s learning problems by Jane M. Healy

One Size Does Not Fit All – Diversity in the Classroom by Randy Howe

I don’t think that any of these fit exactly with my project, however pieces of each could be helpful.

Posted by: janellehilmes | October 5, 2010

My Topic

For my final project, I will look at the education system that we have in place in America, and see how it affects disabled children. It is my understanding at this point that children with severe special needs do not always have the option to go to their neighborhood elementary school. They are sometimes bused to a certain school that offers special education programs. In my project I will investigate this and figure out my opinion on this. I will need to look at how special education in school affects other students, parents and families of special needs kids, teachers, budgets, and the children themselves. I want to look at how having a special needs child affects and stresses a family, and how schools help that. This project is not all about the school system, it also look at the kids themselves, not strictly just the facts. I want to look into the relationship that special needs children have with their siblings and see how that affects all parties involved. I plan to visit the special education room at our school and talk with the teachers, special needs kids, and their student helpers. My sister had trisomy 18 and could not go to the neighborhood school that my other sister and I attended, so I feel a very personal connection to special needs children and to this topic. I am very excited to take a closer look into their lives, and figure out my opinion on the American public school system regarding special education. Hopefully, this project will give me a better idea of my opinion on these issues and open my eyes once again to the special education system in place in Colorado.

Posted by: janellehilmes | October 5, 2010

My Project’s Audience and Purpose

My project is about special education in the public school system. It is a project that will reach people who care about kids and care about education. It will shed some light on the current situation and hopefully open some eyes to how our education system works. I believe that people need this information and that educators will want to see a different perspective on their work. In general, my audience will be people of moral integrity and compassion. If they are interested in my project, then they care about other people. If I choose to write a series of letters, then my audience is mostly educators and people involved directly in the public education system. They will be people who have steady jobs and steady incomes, and are out of school already. The audience of these letters is a group of well-educated people who care about kids and care about schools and want to make the school system better.  If I choose to write an article, then my audience changes a little bit, because it will not necessarily just be written to people in the education field. The article will be directed toward people who are in all fields and all walks of life, and not only to educators. They will be well-educated, and will most likely enjoy reading. These people are simply reading for pleasure, so I have to be sure to entertain them as well as present the facts. No matter how my final project takes shape, I am going to change people’s minds and to influence the way people think about this subject. I think that the people who read my article or letters will want to hear from me because I will bring things up that affect today’s youth and also affect either the reader’s job, their life, or the lives of people around them. People like to read things that are relevant to their own lives and affect them, however indirectly. I know that my project will be interesting, make good claims, and will persuade people to listen to me. Hopefully I will be able to help some children with disabilities get better care or at least more recognition and to get some of the outstanding special education teachers some recognition as well. I hope to discover some things about myself and about possible careers for my future involving special education. This project will spread the word about special education, and for me, that is the ultimate purpose of my project.

Posted by: janellehilmes | October 5, 2010

My Project Reading List

Dave eggers asks people why they don’t get involved with their local schools.


This video suggests that not everyone learns in the same way and schools and other organizations need to understand that and use it to their advantage.


Most video games are not accesible to people who are colorblind, deaf, or have other disabilities. Is this going to change?


The official website for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation.


The author complains about the public education system in America, and how it affects disabled children.


This article shows the costs of educating disabled children.


This article talks about the stresses the education system puts on parents of special needs children.


Book : From stumbling blocks to stepping stones : help and hope for special needs kids / Shari Rusch Furnstahl

A learning disabled child breaks down barriers to become an honor student, a teacher, and a nationally recognized speaker.


Book: A smile as big as the moon / by Kersjes, Michael E.

A special needs teacher breaks down many barriers to get his Sped class into an elite space camp.


Book: The everyday guide to special education law : a handbook for parents, teachers, and other profesionals ; includes 2004 changes to IDEA / by Randy Chapman

This book shows the legal side of special education, starting by explaining what special education is according to law, services considered related to special education, least restricted environments in education, and disabilities that qualify for special education.


Cynthia Banham talks about the importance of leadership and moral courage when fighting for people with physical disabilities.


This video discusses autism and talks about the challenges it brings.


Three youth with Asperger’s syndrome talk about how it has influenced their lives.


The ideas in this video could change and revolutionize teaching.

A man shares his feelings of coping with a special needs child.


A blog about discrimination and if making a law changes anything.

_________________________________________ – Giangreco, M.F. (2007). Extending inclusive opportunities. Educational Leadership, 64(5), 34-37. Available in Full Text PDF.

Adresses questions like “How can students with disabilities meaningfully participate in class if they work many levels below classroom peers?” and talks about inclusion within public schools.

______________________________________ –   Giangreco, M.F. (2003). Moving toward inclusive education. In W.L. Heward (Ed.), Exceptional children: An introduction to special education (7th ed.) (p. 78-79). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Merrill, an imprint of Prentice Hall. Available in Full Text PDF.

A pamphlet saying that we are making inclusive education too complicated, when it is actually quite simple.


Studies show that kids who form relationships with students with and without severe disabilities have better social skills.


This article shows middle and high school students perspective on being friends with peers with severe disabilities.


A revealing study about children living with disabilities in Zimbabwe.


Information about how disabled children in Russia are treated.


Freedom is all about having choices. But is having more choices better? This can apply to the choice of schools parents of disabled children have.


This website shows the laws and rights that special needs children are guarenteed.


How far is a school allowed to go to keep control of special needs children? This case discusses just that, and the lawsuit that came about in North Carolina.


The website for special needs within Douglas County School District.


Answers questions like how does the special education system work in the United States, who is eligable, and what is special education?


Legal rights of special education.


An article about the problem we have with funding special education in Colorado schools.


Shows the debate over whether sibling interaction with an autistic child has a positive affect on the sibling and the autistic child.

Posted by: janellehilmes | October 5, 2010

My Project Format

So far, I have two ideas about how my final project might take shape. The first idea is to write a series of letters to send to people in power within the school district. This might include the superintendent, principal, the school board, special education teachers, or general education teachers. I do not really know what these letters will be about or who exactly I will send them to because I have not researched my topic nor formed an opinion based on my sources. I will have a more clear view of this after I do some research and begin reading my sources. My second idea for a project format would be to submit my writing to a journal, magazine, or newspaper. I believe that if my research gives me strong opinions that I feel the world needs to hear, then I will choose this option. I do not know how to go about doing this but I’m sure I could figure it out. I would want to either submit these articles to a local or online newspaper or to a magazine. I want people to read my writing and have it change their opinion. I want my project to affect how people think about disabilities and have my project change how special education is run. This will not simply be an article or letter you read and forget about, it will be strong enough to change people’s minds.

Posted by: janellehilmes | September 15, 2010

Childhood obesity, Care for Kids, and entrepreneurship in prison

Robertson, Campbell. “First Lady Asks Congress to Join Childhood Obesity Fight.” The New York Times – Politics. 8 Sept. 2010. Web. 12 Sept. 2010.
First lady Michelle Obama spoke at an elementary school in Louisiana this week, addressing the issue of childhood obesity. She asked congress to join her in the fight against childhood obesity by passing the Child Nutrition Legislation. This would give more money to schools to encourage exercise, make school meals more nutritious, and provide more free and reduced price school meals. Mrs. Obama unveiled a campaign in February titled “Let’s Move!” It is also aimed at children to put an end to childhood obesity.
I think that this campaign sounds great but I believe that it is mostly up to the parents to get their kids moving and keep their kids fit. I think that the government can only do so much, and although this is an issue in America, the government can’t change childhood obesity. I believe that we should be educating parents about getting their kids to play outside and eat healthy. And beyond that, the government shouldn’t do very much.
A School District’s Initiative for Social and Emotional Learning Pays Off | Edutopia.” K-12 Education & Learning Innovations with Proven Strategies That Work | Edutopia. 18 Dec. 2009. Web. 12 Sept. 2010.
A school district in Louisville, Kentucky started a program called Care for Kids. This is an effort to make school an enjoyable place to be, end school violence, and increase learning. So far it is working wonders. The schools involved teach conflict resolution, implement “appropriate” consequences, and teach social and emotional skills. They also set expectations up front and show kids how to behave so they won’t have to deal with as many discipline issues later. These schools have improved academically in every area, and teachers say that the whole environment has changed.
I am completely on board with this program. It sounds like they are doing great things and really changing how school is run. It would be great if every school would implement a program where the teachers are dedicated to making a difference in the kids lives. School is where we as students spend the most time, and it would be great if every child had a positive outlook on going to school.
Joyner, April. “CEO Passions: Teaching Prisoners.” Small Business and Small Business Information for the Entrepreneur. 01 Apr. 2010. Web. 13 Sept. 2010. <;.
Brian Hamilton started an entrepreneurship class in prisons in North Carolina. He teaches prisoners serving time for things like drug dealing and robbery how to turn their lives around when they get out of jail. These inmates are people who have less than 6 months left in jail and need help getting on their feet.  Students learn about sales, marketing, and customer service. Many people start their own businesses after leaving jail. They are very successful after the program and many have started businesses. Entrepreneurship classes are very helpful in assisting prisoners with the transition from jail to real life.
Posted by: janellehilmes | September 9, 2010

Abortion, motivation, and trademarks

Appel, Jacob. “The Case for Permitting Abortion Until Birth | Jacob Appel.” Big Think. 27 Mar. 2010. Web. 08 Sept. 2010.
In this Big Think interview, Jacob Appel shares his views on abortion. He brings up one part of this debate, a question of when a fetus becomes a human. People opposed to abortion say that conception is the point when life begins, however Jacob Appel disagrees. He believes that the fetus does not become a human being until birth or even after. Appel states that infants are not coherent and he believes that no infant “has enough capacity and enough sentience to be considered a human being”.  After abortion, many mothers go through postpartum depression. “I think we should grant great latitude to women who kill or euthanize their infants at birth and treat them with kindness as someone who suffers from illness,” Appel states. He fully supports abortion up to birth.
I disagree with Appel. A fetus is a person no matter what the circumstances are. I fully acknowledge the fact that we as humans don’t have memories from our early years, however that does not mean that we were not coherent. Euthanizing a child is murder, and it should be treated as murder. No excuses.
RSA Animate – Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Dir. Daniel Pink. 1 Apr. 2010. Web. 7 Sept. 2010.
In this animated video of a book by Daniel Pink, the speaker talked about motivation. Society believes that monetary incentives motivate people into working hard. During several studies of people doing mechanical tasks, these results were true. However, when doing even simple cognitive tasks, people receiving big rewards actually performed worse. These studies showed that even in rural India where the monetary incentives would be significant in their lives, “higher incentives led to worse performance”. This caused the audience to think deeper into what motivates people, and it was a very captivating video.
Peters, Mark. “Facebook’s Aggressive Trademark Hunt.” Good. 7 Sept. 2010. Web. 8 Sept. 2010.
Facebook is allegedly “bullying” a new website called Teachbook. Facebook claims that Teachbook is taking the “book” part of their trademark and trying to make a social networking site for teachers. Facebook is worried that since they have created a “secondary meaning” to the words face and book, using either part would confuse the public into thinking that the websites were related. Jessica Levy, a trademark lawyer states that since the sites are both social networking sites, she is betting on Facebook winning this battle. However, the author of this article seems against Facebook, saying that they don’t own the words nor do they have a right to “bully” another website. He states, “If there’s one lesson that is true both in trademark and in life: no one likes a bully.” He believes that Facebook is simply being too aggressive.
Posted by: janellehilmes | September 3, 2010

What makes life good?

“Nic Marks: The Happy Planet Index | Video on” TED: Ideas worth Spreading. Web. 31 Aug. 2010.
Nic Marks gave a speech at the TED conference about not only being happy but also making sure the earth doesn’t suffer because of our happiness. He created the HPI, Happy Planet Index, which measures for each country “how successful it is at creating happy and healthy lives for its citizens. That should be the goal of every nation on the planet”, Marks stated. The HPI also factors in how many of the planets resources we use. Marks then recommended 5 ways to be happier in your life. Connect with family and friends to build better relationships, be active, take notice of things that are going on in the world around you, keep learning and never stop being curious, and lastly give money and time to help other people. This TED video was very thought-provoking and it showed an unusual approach to world issues.
Hirschman, David. “#11: Allow Infant Euthanasia | Dangerous Ideas.” Big Think. 12 Aug. 2010. Web. 01 Sept. 2010.
This article and video showed an interview with Peter Singer, a professor at Princeton, who believes that parents should be given the option to euthanize their baby if they are born with a severe disability. He believes that instead of letting the child die a slow but natural death, they should die swiftly and humanely if the parent does not want a disabled child. In another part of the article, Eva Kittay talks about her own severely disable child, rejecting the idea of infant euthanasia. She notes that just because the child is disabled does not necessarily mean they are near death. She brings up the fact that the child can still live a good life and the parents can still love their child, despite their disability.
I passionately agree with Kittay. Infant euthanasia is never okay. Peter Singer has obviously never known a severely disabled child to experienced the love that child gives. Singer suggested to Big Think that there are many conditions in which he thinks euthanasia is acceptable, if the family wishes it. “I would include severe cases of epidermolysis bullosa, Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, babies born without an intestine, trisomy 13 and trisomy 18.” My older sister Liz was born with trisomy 18. She was truly a blessing, and I would never for a minute think it would have been better to euthanize her. Liz died when I was only 5 years old, yet she taught me so many important life lessons like not taking life for granted and accepting people how they are. She made me into who I am today and I know that if Peter Singer had known my sister, he would have changed his mind. Singer has obviously overlooked the impact these children have on their family and other people they encounter, which is a major part of this issue.
Lehrer, By Jonah. “Why Money Makes You Unhappy | Wired Science |” Wired News. 21 July 2010. Web. 02 Sept. 2010.
The author of this article believes that having a lot of money can sometimes contribute to being unhappy. This contradicts the idea that has been drilled into our brains since the day we were born. People have told us things like, ‘you want to make lots of money’ and ‘you are only successful if you are rich’. The goal of society as a whole is to make money. However, if money makes us unhappy, it seems like society has the wrong ideas. This article mentions several studies that show that having money makes you almost immune to savoring the special things in life.  The article states that people with money think they are treating themselves to a nice vacation or an expensive dinner, but in reality, they are spoiling themselves to the point that they won’t enjoy the simple pleasures. If you don’t find happiness in a simple thing such as a beautiful sunset or a chocolate bar, you will feel much less happy overall. In the end, we as a society need to “better enjoy what really matters, which is all the stuff money can’t buy”.
Posted by: janellehilmes | August 24, 2010

Is a home a good investment?

Streitfeld, David. “The New York Times Log In.” The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. Web. 24 Aug. 2010.
This article in The New York Times argued that the housing market will not recover. Many real estate experts say that housing is just not a good investment anymore and that it may not pay off in the long run. It says that housing values will always keep up with inflation, however they will not always make the owner money. The thought of this is scary because throughout history, the housing market has always been a way to make money. We don’t know what the future holds in terms of the economy, inflation, or the housing market. I believe that the housing market will pick up, and soon real estate will be a good investment again. Everyone has to live somewhere, so homes of all price ranges will always be in demand.

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